Monday, April 14, 2014

Eggs and onion skins

The marvelous mahogany hues of hard-boiled eggs boiled in onion skins make a wonderful backdrop to etch with a needle or knife, as seen in the eggs done by Tom Martin at Landis Valley Museum in Lancaster, Pa.  1826 and 1876 directions...

Those of us who save the dry skins of onions to boil in water for 'natural' Easter eggs, may have learned to do it from our grandmothers. A century and a half ago, instructions and even a picture of an etched egg, were in books.  Incidentally, during a visit to the area before Easter, I saw bags of onion skins for sale in a Lancaster grocery store.

A very pretty Easter gift is a boiled colored egg, on which, as on colored porcelain, the most various designs, monograms, pictures and the like, may be etched with a fine penknife. As hard-boiled eggs do not decompose, this forms a durable mark of remembrance. The brown color on our model, is produced by boiling the egg in water filled with onion peels.
Household Elegancies, by Mrs. C. S. Jones and Henry T. Williams NY: 1876 3d ed

Pasch or Paste Eggs  1826
Hard boiled Pasch eggs are to be found at Easter in different parts of the kingdom. A Liverpool gentleman informs the editor, that in that town and neighbourhood they are still common, and called paste eggs. One of his children brought to him a paste egg at Easter, 1824, beautifully mottled with brown. It had been purposely prepared for the child by the servant, by being boiled hard within the coat of an onion, which imparted to the shell the admired colour. Hard boiling is a chief requisite in preparing the patch egg.
The Every-day Book… by William Hone.  London: 1826
©2014 Patricia Bixler Reber

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